TWO American citizens held hostage by Hamas since October 7 have been released, US President Joe Biden announced on Friday, assuring that his Government would fully support the duo in their recovery and healing process.
Biden thanked the Governments of Qatar and Israel for their partnership in securing the release of the two hostages -- a mother and her teenage daughter. Soon thereafter, Biden spoke over the phone with the two released hostages and their family.
“One of the reasons Hamas moved on Israel … they knew that I was about to sit down with the Saudis,” Biden said at a fund-raising event.
The US President indicated that he thinks Hamas militants launched a deadly assault on October 7 because, “Guess what? The Saudis wanted to recognise Israel” and were near being able to formally do so. Jerusalem and Riyadh had been steadily inching closer to normalisation, with Biden working to help bring the two countries together, announcing plans in September at the Group of 20 summit in India to partner on a shipping corridor.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Biden on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September and told him, “I think that under your leadership, Mr President, we can forge a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia.”
The Saudis had been insisting on protection and expanded rights for Palestinian interests as part of any broader agreement with Israel. An agreement would have been a feat of diplomacy that could have enabled broader recognition of Israel by other Arab and Muslim-majority nations that have largely opposed Israel since its creation 75 years ago in territory where Palestinians have long resided. But talks were interrupted after Hamas militants stormed from the blockaded Gaza Strip where Palestinians live into nearby Israeli towns.